A Mission District mural of ten sea turtles was defaced for the second time this week, once again raising questions about the role street art plays in a neighborhood that is rapidly changing. Earlier this month the mural along the PG&E substation at 19th and San Carlos was hit with the words "Latino art only." This time around, Mission Local reports, six of the turtles were covered with paint.
After the first incident, the artist behind the mural, fnnch, told SFist that "[It's] just bizarre to me that I, an artist, am seen as the enemy. I am not the enemy. If San Francisco is being 'ruined' (and I don't think it is; though we do face challenges), it is not the artists who are ruining it."
Fnnch's restoration of the mural, and removal of the "Latino art only" writing clearly didn't put the issue to bed. He shared his thoughts on the second defacing with Mission Local, noting that he doesn't think this is about race at all. “I suspect its anti-gentrification sentiment, not racially oriented,” he said. “Does the writer even know I’m not Latino?”
Another tagger by the name of “Hotboxmuni” (which: love it) told the publication that this may not be about race or gentrification, and instead might stem from an old turf battle between writers. “He went over some real artists murals thinking it’s ok,” Hotboxmuni said of an incident where fnnch reportedly painted over another artist's work at Lucky and 25th Street. “I don’t think he cares about reaching out to the community here and even if he did, I don’t think that he could. He’s totally clueless.”
This battle will likely continue, as fnnch told SFist that "It took a lot of hustle to get [the PG&E substation] wall, and now that I have it, I'm going to defend it."